- Frank Turner - is he human, or is he dancer? He's certainly restless, playing, we believe, somewhere in Europe as you read this. Something that's probably true whenever you read that sentence, come to think of it. The First Three Years collects early and rare songs from his EPs, vinyl singles, digital only releases, tour CDs and the back of the drawer, including covers of Abba, the Lemonheads, the Postal Service, Black Flag, Bad Brains and whoever you want to credit You Are My Sunshine to. Among the singles we'd recommend this week are the latest from the estimable Moshi Moshi Singles Club, fifteen-piece San Francisco psych-poppers Still Flyin' with Good Thing It's A Ghost Town Around Here, and a big old pounding song with a big old pounding vocal from Florence And The Machine. Although she's had a few Sweep entries we have no end of reservations about WACKY! Florence Welch, what with being an airy, affected WACKY! sarf Lahndener who's mates with Daisy Lowe, Nick Grimshaw and that appalling lot and is, fucking hell, managed by the WACKY! Queens Of Noize. But yeah, we'll see. It's called Dog Days, by the way. Or possibly Dog Days Are Over, nobody seems entirely sure. WACKY! Look, there's far more amenable things being released on far smaller labels with far, far smaller Guardian Guide-friendly WACKY! profiles. For example, good to see a debut 7" on Bronzerat from Joe Gideon and the Shark, the brother/sister duo who trade in dark bluesy malevolence and song stories that make the musical touches sound positively twee. Nick Cave's choice of European tour support, and you can see why he'd admire this stuff, the hypnotic intensity of DOL is a fine starter. Also in non-recorded media: it's been out for a few weeks, but Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment by Louis Barfe comes with our seal of approval. Barfe, who previously wrote the record industry history Where Have All The Good Times Gone?, charts the history of LE from vaudeville to telly and all points inbetween, including assorted musical spectaculars. Also, the first part of Phonogram: The Singles Club, the second story in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's music-is-magic comic fantasia, is published by Image on the 7th. You see that The Line Of Best Fit link over there, yeah? Keep an eye on that over the next couple of weeks for Gillen facing up to our daunting *cough* questioning.
The rest of December
- You know, as good as it is for Matador to embark on this Pavement reissue programme, you'd think they'd put some effort in. Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed. restrains itself to just an extra disc and a half of B-sides, two unreleased versions of 7" B-sides, Peel, Evening Session and KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic sessions, for unreleased tracks, a contribution to a The Clean tribute album, a live version of Type Slowly from a Free Tibet fundraiser and their two Space Ghost Coast To Coast themes. Did we mention the 62 page booklet? Anyway, this is the album with Stereo and Shady Lane on, where they calmed down and matured a bit but retained their off-message oddities and compelling complexities. Meanwhile the latest product in the latent Smiths cash cow is a vinyl box set, twelve 7"s of their first ten UK singles plus the promo of the withdrawn Still Ill and the Dutch issue of The Headmaster Ritual. Unusually, there's a fresh new album out for the full week before Christmas, 15th December, Meursault's Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues. We'll be telling you more about this soon.
- Two EPs also catch our eye, one looking forward, one very much looking back. Three Trapped Tigers, who've eponymised their debut EP, are an instrumental trio produced by Gordon 'Strokes' Raphael and led by Tom Rogerson, inventive keyboard scion to Jeremy Warmsley and Emmy The Great. These are five tracks, numbered one to five for unease of use, who've channelled their improvised past into a meld of skewed electronics, Battles/Trans Am ambient to noise invention and post-rock dynamics. It's like Warp set up in the middle of Washington DC's hardcore scene, and it's terrifyingly great. The retrospectives are the work of Cat Power, who's found a six track EP's worth of unreleased covers from the Jukebox sessions - Otis, Aretha, Sandy Denny, The Pogues, Creedence Clearwater Revival, James Carr - down the back of the chaise longue and has put them out as the Dark End Of The Street EP. Proper new album soon-ish, reputedly called Sun, but she said that last autumn.
- The two constituent parts of The Darkness formed ironic hard rock bands; ex-Towers Of London members either went on to heavy rock futures or joined Jimmy Pursey's post-Sham 69 band. Clearly, if you're part of a gimmick-laden band it's something that doesn't leave you easily... unless you're Rose Elinor Dougall, nee Rosay Pipette. True, Julia Indelicate has already proved you can shed that band's manifesto and choreography-heavy polka dotted skin, but the peppy psych-pop of Another Version Of Pop Song, essentially a less gravelly and more vocally likeable Amy MacDonald fronting The Sundays were they produced by Tim Gane, would stand out whatever its protagonist had previously done, which is all you can ask of a debut 7". As is the debut by Dinosaur Pile-Up, the trio we featured as a Myspace undiscovered discovery a while ago. My Rock'n'Roll is actually quite a deceptive record, built on a crunchingly meaty riff and a heap of Weezerish power-pop moves, while their earlier demos promised much more of the Pavement/Guided By Voices school of oddly configured awkward guitar anti-anthemry. With these, Sky Larkin's debut album, Napoleon IIIrd's second, Grammatics, The Rosie Taylor Project, i concur, The Manhattan Love Suicides, Pulled Apart By Horses, ultCult, The Seven Inches, The Chiara L's (whatever's happening to them given their Facebook group is referring to their next gig as "Last gig as The Chiara L's") and the now moved there Her Name Is Calla, Leeds is poised for a huge 2009. Let's all move there. As for next week, the only Christmas single you need is Silvery's cover of You Give A Little Love from Bugsy Malone. And that'll do.
MYSPACE INVADERS: Last new band of the year, so let's make it one who are already creating some attention. David Cronenberg's Wife would probably be surprised to be described as famous on any level, but they've had radio sessions and a few decent bookings. You can probably make a reasonably accurate guess to their musical direction from their name - they've been listed among the London anti-folkers quite often but theirs is a sound less easy to pin down, probably most of all The Fall with slightly straighter but ultimately more worrying lyrical content (and clearer singing), sometimes the Birthday Party becalmed and vaguely in tune, sometimes Brakes forcibly having their their country side removed down a dark alley (My Best Friend's Going Out With A Girl I Like is only ever a few inches away from I Can't Stand To Stand Beside You off Give Blood), sometimes Nuggets bands with electrodes added. Darker than dark and without any ideal of getting on playlists and labels, this is where pure alternative music should stand in 2008.
VISUAL AID: Right, somehow we've never got round to covering Christmas songs on here, and there's videos and performances online for all the classics - We Wish You A Wombling Merry Christmas, What Are We Gonna Get For 'Er Indoors, Merry Christmas Santa Claus by Max Headroom... On terra firma, there's only home made videos for Low's Just Like Christmas but someone recorded Snow Patrol's cover at the Union Chapel, plus a snatch of Two-Step off Secret Name as an intro. Say what you like about them, you don't get that from Chris Martin. Also, you don't see or hear I Was Born On Christmas Day by Saint Etienne and Tim Burgess much nor, despite its reputation, Stop The Cavalry. But really, for the true spirit of Christmas we must look to the traditional religious outlet of Joseph Spence.
* Andrew WK - don't ask how we know this, by the way - chose one of his own songs for first dance at his wedding reception. Ever wondered what plebs pick? Timely as it is, if you found your first dance was to be to Fairytale Of New York we'd be thinking long and hard. Let's Stay Together doesn't bode well either, and as for Eurythmics' Thorn In My Side...
* Aaaaand that's where we wrap the weekend features up for 2008. Where we wrap Weekender up, in fact. Thing is, we kind of feel the impact upon yourselves, the readers, of finding new bands/records/videos/links is somewhat dulled by restricting them to this little space, so instead of spending half the week working towards this splurge we'll be picking only the finest fruits as and when we find them, and hopefully in greater detail for more impact. As such the Weekly Sweep, which stays because we like it, moves to Sundays as a better full stop to a week's lazy blogging. Tomorrow, as previously advertised, the end of the year begins. In the meantime, Rock Paparazzi.